ENGLISH VERSION: Candles, icons, bells, blessings: the Orthodox Church prays for Putin’s success
Prayer service at the Cathedral of the Assumption, after the "enthronement" of Czar Putin. Prayers of the Patriarch of Moscow, joined by those of the Novodevichy Monastery, where the nuns sing psalms 24 hours a day for health for Vladimir Putin.
After a dazzling inauguration ceremony for his new term as president of Russia, Vladimir Putin has received the blessing of Patriarch Kirill, strengthening the link between political power and orthodox religious authorities. The head of the Russian Orthodox Church held a special prayer service for the new president's "health" and "success in government", describing him as the "legitimate leader".
The "Moleben" (prayer service) was held in the Cathedral of the Assumption (see photo), a few steps from the throne room of St. Andrew, where the czars were crowned and where the inauguration of president took place. The Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia has expressed his "warmest congratulations to you, Vladimir Vladimirovich, for your election, given that the majority of our people, with wisdom and freedom, have elected you President of the Russian Federation" . Kirill also recalled that the Kremlin is the place "where many of your pious predecessors have taken part in the rituals of prayer to give an ever greater service to their country."
At the inauguration - which many Russians call the "coronation" - all the bells of the Kremlin were rung for the entire ceremony which had been restored just before the occasion.
Putin was president of Russia from 2000 to 2008, given the inability to appear for a third term - after trying unsuccessfully to change the constitution - he passed the baton to Dimitri Medvedev, taking for himself the role of prime minister. Now that he has been elected President, he leaves the post of Prime Minister to Medvedev. His election last December - amid suspicions of fraud - has attracted much criticism and demonstrations. Even the day before his inauguration, May 6, a huge rally of opponents was held, which ended with the arrest of over 400 people. Even yesterday there were 120 new arrests.
Groups of Orthodox priests and believers were united in their criticism of Putin, but Patriarch Kirill, while advising the government to listen to the demands of the demonstrators, has always supported the re-election of Putin, praising him for the support that he always gives to the Church .
On the eve of the inauguration ceremony, Vladimir Putin visited the Novodevichy Monastery, bringing a gift of an ancient icon of the Mother of God accompanied by the abbess of the monastery, Hegumen Marguerite, and the Patriarch Kirill, Putin took part in a procession of the cross and then visited the crypt which contains the baptismal font of holy Prince Vladimir - founder of Christianity in Russia - lighting a candle before the icon of his patron.
The Hegumen Marguerite told the new president in that church, the nuns sing the psalms without 24 hours a day and pray for his health. For his part, Vladimir Vladimirovich said that "without the Russian Orthodox Church it is impossible to imagine a Russian state or Russian culture."